Bukayo Saka might become a victim of his own tremendous success this season. This season, he has shown flashes of brilliance, be it with his dribbling, pace, or ability to penetrate the opponent’s defense by cutting inwards. However, when facing a player of his caliber, teams often have to resort to special measures. Brentford’s defense dealt with Saka by deploying a double-team on the left flank. Rico Henry hounded him, not giving him an inch of breathing room, while Ben Mee backed him up, ready to clear any loose balls. However, Saka and Arteta found a way around this strategy by attacking the outside of Brentford’s defense.
This adaptation led to Arsenal’s goal, with Saka charging down the right flank and delivering a pinpoint cross to Trossard at the back post. Saka and Arteta will have to quickly adapt to the growing trend of teams devising strategies to stop the young English sensation.
A common strategy against opposition wingers is to double up against them. Arteta and Saka will find more and more teams that will double up against Saka either with the full-back and a defensive winger or with a center-back and the full-back. As Saka has been Arsenal’s key attacking outlet this season, it’s important for Arteta to develop a plan B for games when the opposition succeeds in nullifying Saka.
One option for Arteta is to move Saka to more of a central role and swap places with the striker during the game. This move can be very effective especially once Gabriel Jesus comes back from injury as the Brazilian is comfortable operating on the wings. Especially against teams which double up against Saka using a full back and a winger, Saka switching roles with the striker in the game will open up space for Arsenal’s attackers.